Netanyahu visits Israeli army's Gaza division amid escalation
JERUSALEM, July 17 (Xinhua) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited on Tuesday the military's Gaza Division Headquarters amidst a recent flare-up between Israel and the besieged Palestinian enclave.
The Prime Minister's Office said in a statement that Netanyahu held a security assessment at the headquarters, near the fence separating Israel and Gaza.
Stressing that the Israeli army is "ready for any scenario," Netanyahu praised the military preparedness for escalation, saying he is "very impressed by what I saw here, and I know that like me, every Israeli citizen believes in the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) and gives it their backing ahead of any possible development."
On Friday and Saturday, Israel hit Gaza with the hardest airstrikes since its 2014 military campaign in the strip, killing at least two people. At the same time, Gaza militants launched mortar shells and rockets at southern Israel, wounding four.
Late on Saturday, Hamas, the Islamist Palestinian group that runs Gaza, announced a cease-fire. But on Sunday, the sending of incendiary kites and helium-filled balloons was resumed, which have been sent into Israeli territory and consumed at least 34,000 dunams (34 square km) of farmlands.
Hamas said it takes time before completely halting the arson balloons, but Netanyahu said Israel will not allow any launching of incendiary balloons or kites, and the army will attack groups of balloon launchers.
The arson kites are part of a protest against the crippling blockade that Israel has imposed on Gaza since 2007.